The Top 20 Most Underrated Artists Of Coachella 2015
Who doesn’t love a music festival, right? It’s all the best parts of a concert–music, friends, alcohol and drugs…just lots and lots more of them! Each year, more and more of them are popping up all over the place. As you probably already know, one of the biggest and baddest is always the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The 16th annual fest is to be one of the most incredible line ups this year. We’re talking about AC/DC, Drake, Jack White, Ride, Steely Dan, Flying Lotus, Raekwon and Ghostface, The Weeknd, Belle & Sebastian, Ratatat, SBTRKT, Tyler the Creator, Father John Misty, The War On Drugs, Swans, Florence and the Machine, St. Vincent, Jenny Lewis, Jamie xx, Lil B, Built to Spill, Panda Bear and tons more! Is it just us, or does it seem like the year that each fest is trying to out do and top each other?
Many larger music websites will publish guides which present a good summary to the impressive bill, but who doesn’t already know about most of these celebrity performers? Yet one of the best reasons to go is to discover new music! For each of these well known artists, there are a ton of massively talented, vastly underrated ones they don’t get the attention they deserve. Anyone who has ever been or considered going to experience a massive event like this knows what it feels like when looking towards the bottom of the schedule. It can almost feel like reading a foreign language, seeing bands listed that you have never heard of. Almost everyone will want to watch performers like Tame Impala, Azealia Banks, Lykke Li, Caribou, Toro Y Moi, Royal Blood, Action Bronson, Jungle, Cloud Nothings, Vance Joy, Porter Robinson, Perfume Genius, Milky Chance and Kimbra. That’s why we want to draw your attention to this list.
That’s where we come in to help. Live music festivals are still, despite all the advanced technology of 2015, one of the best methods of discovering new music. What happens if you don’t have time to catch an artist you wanted to see, or if it’s too crowded? And everyone loves an underdog! Besides, these some artists that could very well be at the top of the lineup next year or the year after.
These are artists that are already turning up everywhere this year, and others we expect to follow them very soon. The list includes everything from pop to hip-hop to EDM to metal to folk. So in our best and on going effort to cover the best in up and coming music, we present our picks for The Top 20 Most Underrated Artists Of Coachella 2015. The list is not presented in any logical or sequential order whatsoever.
1. Ryn Weaver
For Fans Of: Little Daylight, Broods, Great Good Fine Ok, MisterWives, Sylvan Esso, Betty Who
Promises, the debut EP from Ryn Weaver, is out now on iTunes via Friends Keep Secrets. Produced byMichael Angelakos, the frontman and creative force of critically lauded Passion Pit and multiplatinum producer Benny Blanco, the EP features debut single “OctaHate” which remarkably reached 1 million plays on SoundCloud in only two weeks. EP track “Promises” premiered on The Fader.
Born and raised in southern California, Weaver started experimenting with music as a child and moved on to writing and producing as a teenager. While living in New York in 2009, Weaver met Blanco and later reconnected with him in Los Angeles. After hearing Weaver’s music, Blanco introduced her to Angelakos and the three began working together soon after.
Ryn Weaver has announced her hotly anticipated debut LP, The Fool, due out June 16 on Mad Love/Interscope. The Fool‘s tracklist includes Weaver’s prior singles “Promises” and the buzz-generating ”OctaHate.”
We placed her in our list of picks for The 50 Best Bets Of CMJ Music Marathon 2014 (see here).
“‘OctaHate’ shines…the newcomer is about to set the season on fire” –TIME
“Weaver’s unrestrained confidence seeps into the song’s smallest corners” –Billboard
“Insanely catchy” –Buzz Feed
“Soaring” –The Fader
“Get ready for this girl to explode” –NYLON
“It’s something entirely new and not of this earth, yet also instantly familiar and gushing with warmth.” –New York Magazine
“The most effortlessly pretty single I’ve heard this summer” –Stereogum
“Ryn Weaver might not be a name you recognize, but that’s likely about to change in the coming weeks.” –Consequence of Sound
“Striking” –The Line of Best Fit
For Fans Of: Magic Man, Panama Wedding, Saint Raymond, The Griswolds, Sir Sly, The Colourist
Conceived in 2011 in the crypt of a church, the Bristol-born 5 piece Coasts have resolutely resisted the overtures of the major record companies and embarked on a unique and independent path. Non stop touring has built a quickly growing group of fans across the country with KOKO in London already booked for their next London show in September – before they have received any mainstream media support. Citing Foals and Arctic Monkeys as their current favorite bands, COASTS’ anthem “Oceans” has now had over 2 million+ plays on Soundcloud and their next step is world domination – their way! They recently released their new self-titled EP and another called Modern Love and have toured as opening support for Bad Suns, Maudlin Strangers, St. Lucia and RAC. Catch them at a small venue while you still can…
3. The Night Terrors Of 1927
For Fans Of: Bad Veins, ASTR, Royal Teeth, Panama, Ghost Beach, Blondfire
Blake Sennett and Jarrod Gorbel had no intention of being in a band together when they started writing the songs that evolved into Night Terrors of 1927. They were just trying something different. “I think we each had let go of the idea of being anything we’d ever been before,” says Sennett, whose previous projects include The Elected and Rilo Kiley. “I had given up the band dream in a way that has been kind of reborn in me. I had put it in the ground and buried it and was like, ‘Cool, I’ll just write and produce and that’s where I’ll go.”
“We were like two people with broken hearts that came out of bad relationships, in a way,” says Gorbel, formerly of The Honorary Title. They met through mutual friends in 2010 and Sennett produced some of Gorbel’s solo material. “Back then, we talked about writing together, but I wasn’t open to that at the time,” says Gorbel. “But I think I went through a year of turmoil and realizing that I wanted more help, more than just production. I wanted to create something with someone, not just on my own like I always had. When I moved to LA, I called Blake and was like, ‘Hey, can we just get together and write a song. I don’t know for what or why.’ And that was that.”
They started getting together casually to work on songs that fell out of their comfort zone. They tried to push themselves to explore their poppier creative instincts, to blend their styles without judgement. After all, they weren’t trying to be a band, so why overthink it? But then something unexpected happened.
The pair met up in Todo Santos, Mexico for an impromptu songwriting retreat, to finish some songs they’d started, and to brainstorm some new ideas. It was a short trip — just a few days — but it was a revelation. “Todo Santos was such an easy-going atmosphere, and we had acoustic guitars and everything just flowed,” says Gorbel. “We started writing a couple new songs and we were just excited about them in a way we hadn’t been before.” Adds Sennett: “There was just no noise and the only thing left was songs. We had a house on the water that was all tile, with very little furniture, so everything we played sounded so magical and reverb-y, bouncing around that cool beach house. Once it was just us and some guitars and my iPad serving as a drum machine, we were having fun and the songs were working and it suddenly became clear to me: This is actually very simple, when you strip away everything else. I felt like, ‘Wow, I want to do this.’”
Back in LA, they set about building on the songs they started in Todo Santos, recording in Sennett’s Echo Park studio and beginning to flesh out their vision for their new band. They decided to call themselves Night Terrors of 1927, after a phrase Gorbel had found scrawled in his grandfather’s old journal and which had stuck with him ever since. “Everything we ever loved spills out into this band,” says Sennett, citing things as diverse as 80s goth and 90s hip-hop, plus contemporary artists from Crystal Castles to The Weeknd to Lana Del Rey.
“Pop and indie are influencing each other more than ever, which is exciting because it opens up possibilities for the kind of music you can make,” says Gorbel. “But no matter what, I’ve always loved anthems. Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi — that’s what I grew up on. Even though Night Terrors is on the darker side of that spectrum, I think the goal for me is trying to find a masculine way to express an anthem that’s dark but still accessible.”
Sennett says he thinks the strength of the duo lies in their opposite extremes. “Jarrod comes from a suburban upbringing and his parents are still together, and he loves these anthems rooted in the traditional everyman experience,” he says. “And I’m this LA child of, like, five divorces and random New Age ideas and hip-hop and weird, cut-up sounds.”
Without including any biographical details, they posted their first couple of finished tunes on Soundcloud last year, and the response was immediate. “Watch The World Go Dark” drew raves from the U.K.’s Guardian (“an impending apocalypse never sounded so good,” and taste-making blogs including All Things Go (“The most polished songwriting and production we’ve heard from a relatively obscure group in a long time”) and Neon Gold. Released a couple months later, their song “Dust & Bones” earned plays on powerhouse Los Angeles radio stations KROQ and ALT 98.7, as well as Sirius XM’s influential Alt Nation. On the strength of those songs and their dynamic live performances, Atlantic Records signed Night Terrors of 1927 last summer, releasing their debut EP, Guilty Pleas, in November.
Gorbel and Sennett are currently working on a full-length album, teaming with producers Andrew Dawson (Kanye West, Fun.) and Ben H. Allen (Washed Out, Walk The Moon, Cut Copy). Though the early attention came quicker than they’d have expected, Gorbel and Sennett are settling in for whatever hard work it takes. “I feel like this is the project of my life,” says Sennett. “I’ve never worked this hard on a project and I’ve never cared more.”
They have toured as the opening support for The Preatures. They released an EP called Anything To Anyone and their song “When You Were Mine” features Tegan and Sara. They released their debut full length Everything’s Coming Up Roses in the early part of 2015.
We placed them in our list of picks for The Top 20 Underrated Artists Of ACL Fest 2014 (see here).
4. Joyce Manor
For Fans Of: Senses Fail, Pity Sex, Balance And Composure, Prawn, The Menzingers, Into It. Over It.
Joyce Manor was conceived in the back of a car in the Disneyland parking lot—the kind of beginning California dreams are really made of. It was the fall of 2008 over a bottle of cheap booze when co-founders Barry Johnson (guitar, vocals) and Chase Knobbe (guitar) decided to team up. They formed a power violence band where everyone would have Johnny Thunders-style glam-names … like “Joyce Manor” named after an apartment complex Barry walked past every day. But when longtime friend Andrew Jackson Jihad suddenly asked Barry if his old band wanted to open for their LA show, he scrambled to say yes.
“I was like, ‘We have a new band!’ ‘What’s it called?’ And the first thing I thought of was … ‘Uh, Joyce Manor!’ We didn’t even have a band. But they put it on the flyer.”
So Joyce Manor made their debut as an acoustic two-piece, with Chase and Barry quickly learned that they were really a pop-punk band trapped inside a folk-punk duo—too many songs just demanded bass and drums. “Playing loud is just more fun,” explains Barry.
By the end of 2009, they’d made a new friend in new drummer Kurt Walcher and welcomed old friend Matt Ebert back from Portland to play bass. (“He moved back like, ‘Dude, wanna start a band?’” says Barry. “And I said, ‘Wanna be in THIS band?’”) With their line-up settled, they attacked their songs with new enthusiasm and neurotic precision, discovering their own kind of beauty in simplicity and pursuing heartbroken punk perfection.
Their first self-titled album in 2011 exploded out of nowhere and their second in 2012 landed them on the storied Asian Man Records, home of all of Barry’s first favorite bands. Across these two albums, they discovered what Joyce Manor really sounded like—the speed and sense of melody of fellow South Bay band the Descendents, the artfully bittersweet lyricism of Jawbreaker and the undeniable heart-on-sleeve honesty of the first two Weezer albums. By the close of 2013, they had the experience, the discipline and the inspiration to make one of those rare albums that redefines a young band—Never Hungover Again, on Epitaph Records.
Some of these songs, they’d been working on for years, says Barry. Joyce Manor never demos. They just mercilessly rehearse, chopping and editing and reworking songs until there’s nothing left that lags. (“I just know when it’s right,” says Barry) Guitarist Chase had graduated to a co-writing position with Barry, pouring new ideas and techniques into the songs, and while their first two albums were learn-as-you-go experiences, they started Never Hungover Again with a vision, a budget and two whole weeks to make exactly what they wanted. (That’s a long time in Joyce Manor world.) Friend and Philly producer Joe Reinhardt took the controls in Hollywood’s analog dreamland the Lair. They assigned the final mix to Tony Hoffer—the guy who found the definitive sound Supergrass, Belle and Sebastian, M83 and Phoenix.
Together, they made an album of pop-punk in paradox, right down to the title and photo on the cover. It’s something like believing the impossible, says Barry, or at least the too good to be true: “Those people look wasted—yeah, there will definitely be a hangover! There will be pain!’” (Referring to the cover art). It is ten precisely put-together songs about how things fall apart, with some of the saddest lyrics you’d ever shout along to from the front row.
There are broken homes, drunken nights, faltering relationships and the kind of numbness that makes you want to feel anything at all, even if it hurts. Naturally, there are some Morrissey-esque moments in there—like “In the Army Now” about watching friends grow out of music and move on. Or in “End of the Summer,” which somehow puts a Big Star-style intro in front of Moz-ian vocals and a chorus that’s pure blue-album Weezer. “Heart Tattoo” is a pop-punk stormer (think Lifetime or Dillinger Four) about what really happens when you get a tattoo—“What about the regret?” asks Barry. And “Catalina Fight Song” is maybe Hungover’s definitive song, about hanging out on the cliffs that overlook the Pacific—what locals call the end of the world—and thinking “What the fuck am I gonna do?”
If there’s a feeling to Never Hungover Again, says Barry, it’s a feeling he can’t quite pin down—some complex thing that’s part anger and part sadness. It’s the loneliness when you’re surrounded by people and that lostness when everything you’ve wanted seems to be right in front of you. And if there’s a single moment that defines Never Hungover Again, it’s the way “The Jerk” ends with feedback and a chord ringing over Barry’s last shout of “It all goes wrong!”—because despite the confusion and sorrow and resignation, it somehow sounds so right.
Joyce Manor is:
Barry Johnson (guitar, vocals)
Chase Knobbe (guitar)
Matt Ebert (bass)
Kurt Walcher (drums)
5. What So Not
For Fans Of: Gemini Club, Flume, Peking Duk, Flosstradamus, A-Trak, Major Lazer, Diplo
What So Not has uploaded the first new song from the forthcoming Gemini EP, coming soon via OWSLA / Sweat It Out. The title track features vocals from Aussie singer George Maple.
Hailing from the sandstone bedrock that is Sydney, this duo (one half skyrocketing electronic act FLUME, one half flaming dj rocket EMOH INSTEAD) is the fresh face of our beloved ‘Sweat it Out’ & voice of the ADD generation. 2010 saw the beginnings of the ‘What So Not’ journey into the musical unknown. Smelting sarcastic synth leads, vocal transpositions & the ever-essential 808, the two manipulated past and future to form their own eclectic brand of Dance music.
After hours, weeks and months of intense production sessions; fingers raw, throats horse and brains stretched, they presented their case to the Dance Legend himself. Much praise & excitement erupted over the now known; ‘7 Dollar Bill’, title track for What So Not’s Debut EP – & the results appeared unanimous; Switch (Major Lazer), Bag Raiders, Sinden, Boys Noize & countless others, all on board for this new bread Bamboo Banger.
Released in Mid November 2011, the 4 track EP has already received a good workout from Tripple J’s Friday night Shuffle, Fbi’s Sunsets & cast a spell of seduction over the general clubbing public. With tour dates in their diaries & the globe in their sights, the ball is well & truly in motion for these young Sydney upstarts!
6. The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger
For Fans Of: Temples, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Damon Albarn, Allah-Las, Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, Here We Go Magic
The Goastt is two people, Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl. It is, in itself, a chimera; a fabulous creature made with parts of two distinctly different creatures. It is also an acronym, as you might guess from its being capitalized like that. By virtue of being a friend to, and fan of, both the zygotes in this organism, I know what its letters stand for, but it’s not mine to reveal. I expect they will do so at some future point.
Having driven my Ducati to Sean and Kemp’s house through the darkened October streets of 4 am New York to type these words, I realize the absurdity of my task. If I wrote a novel and gave its protagonists stories of origin like the ones from which the two parts of GOASTT arose, people would say I was a fabulist in need of a hyperboectomy. Or an artless sophomore. But life is allowed a liberty with plotlines that novelists are not. Take these two:
Sean Lennon is a man of many hats. Like an alien who fell to earth and had to quickly assimilate humanity, he is a vast rolodex of accents, facts, farce, a myriad of motor skills (from archery to sketching) and can play any musical instrument (as if all undertakings are merely transposable keys to a song he knows by heart). Hyper-aware, there’s almost nothing he isn’t good at… This may be the result of his legendary genetic endowment, or simply the enormous pressure of his parentage; his father was perhaps the most accessible and experimental songwriter of his century. But, just as he reached the age of 5 when his father might have reared him with the milk and honey of nurture rather than the iron fist of nature, Sean’s father was assassinated. As a consequence of this huge event and other shadows, Sean’s life has been strangely both circumscribed and exaggerated. To the insouciant improvisational “Art is a Verb!” nature of his parents was added a welter of natural anxieties that would have made Woody Allen feel at home.
When I briefly encountered Sean’s mother as an avant garde artist at Wesleyan University in January of 1966, I thought she had the most original mind I’d ever met. Later as she was dragged across the yawning screen of American hypercelebrity, I didn’t know what to think, save that she, and all around her, seemed improbable.
And improbable was the first word that came to mind when I met Kemp Muhl almost exactly 40 years later.
Though her background was as unlikely as Sean’s, hers was as private in its peculiarities as his was public. And her origins as the Georgian daughter of a military lieutenant colonel who had been nipped off to be a supermodel in New York, at about the tender age improbably beautiful girls are usually abducted – which is, chronologically at least, almost criminally young – did not in any way explain the fact that she has the other most original mind I had ever encountered.
After meeting Kemp, I followed her around- to the extent that I could move quickly enough- not, like most others, for the scenery, but because I found her casual triple-entendres, her “Kempisms,” to be so improbably delicious in my mind…
She is such a free-running spring of cool creativity, that it didn’t surprise me much when, shortly after she paired off with Sean and began to experience the musical ecosystem that is his unique mind, she revealed herself to have an utterly original sense of melody and lyrical realization as well. Her lines are like Borges short stories. I might have known.
As a symbol of her transformation for Sean, she now goes by Charlotte (her first name), much like a Native American who gets a new name upon having killed their first buffalo. Erstwhile Sean, (since his past chapters of turmoil and Shakespearean tragedy,) has shed the dark scales of his brooding artist skin for that of a newfound composer and puckish poet of an invincible fiber.
My great fortune lies in being an audience very close at hand to the gestation, birth, and early being of The GOASST. It is beautiful and strange and new. Let us watch it grow together.
-John Perry Barlow
7. Benjamin Booker
For Fans Of: Courtney Barnett, The Districts, Alvvays, Hanni El Khatib, Royal Blood, Hamilton Leithauser
Benjamin Booker is a young New Orleans based singer-songwriter. He is influenced by The Gun Club, Blind Willie Johnson and T. Rex. He is already getting attention from the likes of NPR and Noisey/Vice, and has opened for Jack White. His debut, self-titled album was released August 19th, 2014.
We placed him in our lists of picks for The Top 20 Most Underrated Artists Of Lollapalooza 2014 (see here).
8. Until The Ribbon Breaks
For Fans Of: Great Good Fine Ok, BØRNS, Lovelife, Years & Years, Wildcat! Wildcat!, Sir Sly
Remember the days when gifting mixtapes was the definitive romantic gesture? That careful ritual of combing through your record collection, choosing a myriad of musical moods and memories for the recipient to imbibe and devour again and again, until the tape wore out – Until The Ribbon Breaks.
Having wrapped up three sell out North American tours supporting Lorde, Phantogram and Delorean, UTRB, the three piece band fronted by Cardiff native, Pete Lawrie Winfield recall how as youngsters you would “give a girl or a friend a mixtape to let them know what music you loved. It didn’t matter if one song was De La Soul and the next was R.E.M. It was about the feeling the entire collection conveyed.”
Drawing both their approach and name from their art form, Until The Ribbon Breaks (UTRB) are a uniquely skilled, singing, songwriting, producing collective. Decidedly honest, their music embraces an old-school passion for intricate, clever writing and the slicing together of sounds, samples and lyrics; a skill demonstrated in debut track “Pressure” and the accompanied self-made video which they released on YouTube last year.
The powerful debut album to follow will treat listeners’ ears to something compelling and unique. Mesmeric, dark apocalyptic pop, meets infectious “Avant RnB” in a way that is both haunting and beautiful in its raw confrontation of human emotion.
Boldly and without trepidation, each track tells a tale of love, loss, lust, infatuation, regret or fear all enveloped in cinematic imagery, which could sit comfortably within the poignant scenes of any Spike Lee, Tarantino or Scorsese film.
The filmic element to their work comes as no surprise from a band whose lead originally studied film and has always maintained that music and film inform both each other, and the production process.
To craft the album, the boys buried themselves in a hidden studio space armed with just a film projector, a microphone, a drum machine, and a piano and went about marrying their two chief loves. As the art forms began to merge, the outcome was a magnetic, provocative, self-made video for every track.
Pete recalls how he would “project films on the wall while [he] was working.” “I’d shut the sound off, watch the movies, and make music to them. It was everything from David Lynch to Terrence Malick. The mood usurped the narrative and the visuals and music became entwined.”
This year, as well as working on their own upcoming album, UTRB have caused frenzy amongst the blogosphere with remixes or “reimaginations” for The Weeknd’s “Wicked Games,” Sam Smith’s “Nirvana,” Lorde’s “Royals,” Phantogram’s “Fall in Love,” London Grammar’s Sights” and a feature on EL-P and Killer Mike’s new album Run The Jewels.
Moreover this year their work has gripped the attention of the likes of NPR, the BBC and rave reviews from Pitchfork, Spin, Pigeons and Planes, Jay Z’s Life + Times, Fader and Line of Best Fit, and more.
UTRB’s debut album A Lesson Unlearnt was released in North America Jan 20th this year after which they joined London Grammar on their 11-date North American tour.
“Now, immersion can begin properly for the rest of the world.”
We placed them in our list of picks for The 50 Best Bets Of SXSW 2015 (see here).
9. Ryan Hemsworth
For Fans Of: Cashmere Cat, LOL Boys, DJ Rashad, RL Grime, Jessy Lanza, Giraffage
With a production range spanning across the spectrum of hip hop, R&B, dance music in its many forms and even indie rock, Canadian artist Ryan Hemsworth has landed himself in the eye of today’s musical storm- navigating smoothly across genres and making it all fit in his inclusive imaginative world.
Having originally explored his musical voice as a singer and guitarist in his teens, Hemsworth rose to fame soon after his love affair with drum loops and samples took flight. A couple critically-acclaimed R&B albums, a vast catalogue of underground rap collabos, and a string of landmark mixes and remix work took him on the road to the four corners of the world- all becoming important ingredients to define his approach and lay the ground work for his singular vision. With the Last Words EP and debut album Guilt Trips, these experiences began to crystallize and form a musical landscape that is at once all-encompassing and completely personal- a collage of influences and soundscapes that come together naturally into Ryan’s world. In 2014, he launched Secret Songs as a new frontier into this frame of mind; a free outlet to share new exclusive music he supports with no strings attached. The platform started as a simple Soundcloud page and took off immediately, now growing into its own imprint, permeating into his live shows, having “started its own service” as noted by The New York Times- all supported through a vast network of collaborators and fans.
With his sophomore album, Alone For The First Time, Hemsworth keeps sailing to new creative adventures and explorations, digging even deeper into unexplored genres, and coming back to his songwriting roots with his most thoughtful and layered record to date.
Ryan Hemsworth is a young producer from Canada with a remarkably productive output in the past two years and a totally unique approach to hip-hop and R&B production.
With an early background as a singer and guitarist, he quickly weaned off rock into hip-hop and more software oriented music, diving whole-heartedly into drum loops and samples. In 2011, his first release No Plans was featured on SPIN magazine’s Top 20 R&B albums of 2011 and he quickly followed up with A Wayand Kitsch Genius, which got him increasingly noticed for a singular sound attracting a number of music critics and artists from across the country. He soon began cultivating relationships online and became a go-to producer for MCs like Main Attrakionz, Shady Blaze and Deniro Farrar, helping craft a sound sitting somewhere between chill wave and trap rap. Hyperbolic Chamber Music, a collaborative project with NYC clothing brand Mishka, saw him at the helm of a 22-minute posse cut featuring 26 different rapper from across America, and his remix treatment of Grimes, Frank Ocean and Danny Brown have kept his name spreading in the past year.
With his first label release, the Last Words EP released through Wedidit Collective, Ryan Hemsworth continues his sonic collages and explorations, digging even deeper into unexplored genres and delivering his finest work to date.
For Fans Of: The History Of Apple Pie, Bleached, Cheatahs, Skaters, White Lung, The Obits
Since forming in 2009, Leeds-based Eagulls have become synonymous with a discontented, disillusioned kind of anger, molded into bullets of post punk that’s rife with urgency and aggression.
Brought together by drummer Henry Ruddell and guitarist Mark ‘Goldy’ Goldsworthy, they were later joined by friends Liam Matthews on guitar and Tom Kelly on bass. After struggling to find a singer that fitted with their vision for the band, they roped in George Mitchell to be their frontman without ever having heard him sing before.
It was a risk that paid off, with their debut single ‘Council Flat Blues’ written a week after their first rehearsal together. It was an attention-grabbing introduction to the band: A seething cut of vitriolic riffs and barked lyrics about the things that occur in the vicinity of council flats, it announced Eagulls as an uncompromising, invigorating burst of excitement in a musical landscape littered with bands more focused on fashion and nostalgia — a trend the group took aim at in a now infamous open letter posted online.
For a band like Eagulls, touring is their lifeblood, as shown through the relentless bouts of gigging that have coloured their four years together, in between working tedious day jobs in the bars and retail outlets of Leeds together. Booking support slots with the likes of Iceage, Merchandise and Fucked Up they’ve carved out a reputation for chaotic and confrontational live shows.
Now, following further standalone releases, their debut album is complete and slated for release in early 2014. Finessing the incensed spirit of their early tracks and gigs, it sets its stall out as a heavier, darker and more exhilarating step on from what’s come before. ‘Nerve Endings’, opening track and first taste of the record, encapsulates that in throbbing bass and George hollering “can’t find my end” whilst ‘Fester-Blister’ provides an anthemic streak cutting through a wall of frenetic noise. ‘Tough Luck’ takes inspiration from outside the punk pool associated with Eagulls, boasting a rumbling Joy Division-esque bassline. It all ends on the searing rush of ‘Soulless Youth’, which finds George declaring “I never feel fine/They’re soulless inside… the soulless youth” with enough bile to make it clear just how he feels about his generation.
“We’re all more pessimistic, more jaded, more cynical,” explains Goldy of the band’s moodier shift. “When you finish uni, you’ve got optimism and you think everything’s going to be alright. You think you’ll just take a shit job in a shop and you’ll only have to do it for a while but then you’re still there a year later…”
It’s this frustration and sardonicism that fuels Eagulls and lights a match under their first LP. Though they admit to there being “lighter moments” on the record, on the whole it’s a gloomy, overcast affair. Influenced by post-punk and shoegaze (primarily the sonic assaults of My Bloody Valentine) combined with their own background in hardcore bands, it follows their first trip to America earlier this year for SXSW ( a trip the band sacked in their jobs to take) — the catalyst for their signing to US. .indie label Partisan.
Since their return home, the band have been largely quiet whilst they finished work on the album. “We haven’t been able to play as much because we’ve been in the studio” says Goldy.
With the record now complete and ready for release, expect their own unique brand of mayhem to be lighting up venues around the country as they return to their natural environment of the road to reinforce their abrasive brilliant reputation once more.
We placed them in our list of picks for The 50 Best Bets Of CMJ 2013 (see here.)
11. Bad Suns
For Fans Of: Wolf Alice, Smallpools, Echosmith, Walla, Moon Taxi, Hunter Hunted
Southern California rock band Bad Suns formed in 2012 and in the short time since inception, have managed to be musically beyond their years. Made up of Christo Bowman (vocals), Gavin Bennett (bass), Miles Morris (drums) and Ray Libby (guitar) the four piece ranges from ages 19-22 yet has a sound reminiscent of rock stalwarts from generations past. “I grew up with a lot of world music playing in the house. When I was 10, I started getting heavily interested in the guitar, and my dad began introducing me to his records from the 70’s and the 80’s. Initially Elvis Costello, then to The Clash, The Cure, and so on,” notes Chris. “All of these artists and bands had a big impact on me, at a young age, as far as song composition goes. “ Influences are apparent on the band’s upcoming EP Transpose, where angst-ridden riffs and ethereal yet charismatic vocals pay tribute to post-punk legends of the early 80’s. “ I started writing my first songs at that time,” Chris continues, “Though we can now reflect on that era of music, those artists were ahead of their time in a lot of ways. That’s what’s most inspiring.”
Transpose was recorded in the studio with producer Eric Palmquist (The Mars Volta, Wavves, Trash Talk) and serves as a prelude to the band’s debut full-length slated for 2014. “The writing and recording process is always exciting, because it’s constantly changing and unique to each song. Inspiration comes and goes as it pleases, so a night when a song gets written is a very good night,” says Chris. Comprised of four tracks, Transpose flows effortlessly from start to finish showcasing the band’s stadium ready anthems and undeniably catchy hooks. “Music has the ability to evoke certain feelings in people, a way that not much else can. The pairing of words and sounds can be an extremely powerful tool, when done right. I think the ultimate goal for this band is to make music that causes people to really feel something.” Aside from writing a record, Bad Suns’ 2013 was a busy one, complete with multiple CMJ showcases as well as sharing the stage with the likes of The 1975 and Vaccines with no signs of slowing down any time soon. Transpose will be released everywhere in the early months of 2014.
“One day I just decided to be a musician, and I never strayed away from that goal. Being in a band is the only thing I can do.”- Chris Bowman
Los Angeles natives, Bad Suns, are pleased to announce the release of their debut album, Language & Perspective. Comprised of eleven tracks,Language & Perspective moves effortlessly from start to finish showcasing the band’s stadium ready anthems and undeniably catchy hooks. The album will be available on iTunes on June 24th and everywhere else July 1st, 2014.
Produced by Eric Palmquist (The Mars Volta, Wavves, Trash Talk) Language & Perspective serves as a follow up to the band’s breakout debut EP Transpose, which hit streets earlier this year. In a short time since their inception, Bad Suns have performed the first single, ‘Cardiac Arrest,’ on Conan and the track is already fast approaching Top 20 at Alt Radio with a weekly audience of 1 million plus and building. “It’s pretty incredible what you can accomplish with time, work, and patience. Playing our songs to receptive audiences, across the country, has been surreal for us; it’s what we’ve always dreamed of. We’re excited for people to hear the album that we’ve made, and then come experience it in a live setting,” says frontman Christo Bowman. Bad Suns were on tour directly supporting The 1975 until the beginning of a run of headlining shows in the U.S.
For Fans Of: Death From Above 1979, Crosses, Royal Blood, METZ, Radkey, White Lung
Mars Volta/At The Drive-In co-founders Cedric Bixler Zavala and Omar Rodríguez-López and legendary Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea have formed a new super group called Antemasque. They are joined by former Mars Volta drummer extraordinaire Dave Elitch. Their self-titled debut album came out November 10, 2014.
This isn’t the first time that Flea has been involved with them, he was the first touring bass player for The Mars Volta. And if you recall, Bixler-Zavala broke up the band last year in 2013, after Rodriguez-Lopez started new band Bosnian Rainbows, making the comparsion to a cheating wife in a press release (and on Twitter). This followed the short lived 2012 At The Drive-In reunion tour, which included the re-release of previous album Relationship Of Command and Acrobatic Tenement.
While the record was recorded at Flea’s studio and he does play on some of the recordings, he is not a permanent member of the supergroup. In a post on their Facebook page, the band said, “To our fans, the new & the old: this one is for you. Many said we gave you back a reason to be excited for new music. You gave us a reason to create it. Thank you. More details to come. Carpe Diem.”
13. Alvin Risk
For Fans Of: Zeds Dead, Kaskade, The M Machine, 12th Planet, Kill The Noise, Dillon Francis
Alvin Risk is an American singer, producer, and DJ. He has worked alongside artists as varied as The Prodigy, Kaskade, Hans Zimmer, fun., and Skrillex. Alvin is currently in the studio working on an album scheduled for release in the fall of 2014.
14. Vic Mensa
For Fans Of: Mac Miller, Chance The Rapper, A$AP Ferg, Flatbush Zombies, Travis Scott, Vince Staples
Born in 93, rapper Vic Mensa is an independent recording artist from Chicago, Illinois who released his mixtape INNANETAPE online in 2013 to critical acclaim. Vic has toured North America with J. Cole and Disclosure and Danny Brown on his recent European Tour. Vic is also the leader and co-founder of the SAVEMONEY collective.
We placed him on our list of picks for The 50 Best Bets Of CMJ 2013 (see here). He is perhaps most well known now for his new track “U Mad” which features Kanye West.
15. Keys N Krates
For Fans Of: Baauer, RL Grime, Flosstradamus, Bro Safari, A-Trak, What So Not
Keys N Krates formed as the brainchild of drummer Adam Tune, synth/keyboard aficionado David Matisse and internationally award-winning turntablist Jr. Flo. The Toronto trio came together in 2008 with the desire to bring their blend of live electronic instrumentation to the stage.
They’ve often been referred to as the world’s only “trap band,” a title they reluctantly accept. Tune says it best: “At the end of the day, people are going to call us whatever they want. We are referencing everything from classic house music to Timbaland in our beats, but I think the trap references tap into what the current sound is, and we are okay with that.”
Having toured their unique blend of hip hop and bass music extensively across North America, Keys N Krates put out a slew of original music in 2013. The September release of their SOLOW EP on Steve Aoki‘s Dim Mak Records featured KNK’s banger “Treat Me Right” which launched with the support of figureheads like Diplo, Major Lazer, Flosstradamus and TNGHT. It went to number one on Hype Machine, continues to chart on Beatport Hip Hop Chart, and remains a fixture in DJ sets and car stereos around the globe.
Their second single off SOLOW EP, “Dum Dee Dum,” premiered on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio1 and experienced a similar kind of success on the charts with more than a 100,000 downloads sold to date. The accompanying music video saw Keys N Krates’ grimy beats infiltrate the conservative Mennonite farm community and amassed more than two million plays on Youtube. They later created the “Dum Dee Dum Remix” featuring G.O.O.D. Music’s Cyhi The Prynce, King Louie and Tree, which received glowing reviews from the likes of Fader Magazine, Vice Mag and NahRight.
In September 2014, the band launched into the next phase of their musical journey with the release of the Every Nite EP. This 6 track offering aptly demonstrates their evolution as a band, as well as their loyalty to the unique fusion of hip-hop and electronic music that they’re known for. The first single off the new EP “Are We Faded” debuted on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio1, as well as the highly influential Youtube channel All Trap Music. The track has already amassed over 1 million plays, and been supported by the likes of Machinedrum, What So Not, Hudson Mohawke and Plastician.
Perhaps what truly separates Keys N Krates from the mass of electronic and hip-hop producers out there is the unique show they create by performing their bassy beats as a band, completely live. When you go to a KNK show, you will see their music and the music of others morphed and turned on it’s head using only drums, keys, turntables and live sampling. This unique style creates not only a crazy dance party, but an experience and vibe like no other.
As a result, Keys N Krates have found themselves performing for fans across Europe and North America, headlining the Every Nite Tour in 2014, and playing at some of the world’s largest Music Festivals, including: TomorrowWorld, Lollapalooza, Electric Zoo, Ultra Music Festival, Osheaga and Sonar Festival (to name a few). As Matisse says, “Our favorite thing is playing live and bringing people into our world.”
For Fans Of: White Fence, Foxygen, Thee Oh Sees, King Tuff, The Growlers, Black Lips
Allah-Las met while working at Amoeba Music, a key destination for music lovers in Los Angeles. While this experience helped shape their sensibility, their sound was forged in an underground basement where they came together as a band. They began gigging in Los Angeles in 2008, refining their live performance, and finally released their first 7” single Catamaran / Long Journey in 2011. In 2012, they began their relationship with Innovative Leisure, releasing their first self-titled album, Allah-Las, anchored by their second single Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind) / Sacred Sands. The release was met with critical acclaim and the band toured extensively in the States and abroad before going back into the studio to record their follow-up.
Allah-Las’ second album, Worship The Sun, expands on the sound established by their maiden effort, honing their fusion of West Coast garage rock and roll, Latin percussion and electric folk. As richly textured and timeless as a Southern California beach break, the songs are evocative of Los Angeles’ storied past. Beatniks, artists, surfers, nomads. Remnants of a bygone Sunset Strip. Golden tans and cosmic sunsets. One can feel the warmth of the sun, but the band deftly avoids the kitsch so often indulged by lovers of these things. Hints of Byrds, Love, Felt, and those who follow are threaded into the tapestry.
LA’s seminal Ferus Gallery – the home of Wallace Berman, Ed Kienholz, Ed Ruscha, Billy Al Bengston – is paid homage in an eponymous instrumental, broadening the scope beyond mere sea, surf, and sand. The lyrics reveal a new maturity; reflections of a band that has grown together through experiences on the road and in the studio. Worship The Sun is at once the perfect soundtrack for the greatest surf film never made and for a golden hour drive through Topanga Canyon. Yet, while grounded in the Southern California experience, the appeal of the album is not limited by locale. It is a teenage symphony to the sun, for all those who know its grace.
For Fans Of: Kishi Bashi. Lucius, Jenny Lewis, Milo Greene, San Fermin, Typhoon
Phox is a self-sabatoging group of sad sack children from Baraboo.
It was in Baraboo that the six unlikely musicians attended high school together, some playing on the soccer field, others on video production sets.
They did the thing that most people do when they are 18: they fled the coop, each going their separate ways (to film school, cosmetology school, a job with Homeland Security…). But promises were made that couldn’t be kept, and as they fell in unrequited love and lost their respective jobs, in spite of themselves, each simultaneously pulled the ripcord and came home.
The sextet promptly (-ish) got a house together in the Portland of the heartland, Madison, WI. As prolifically documented in their online video series, Phox rekindled their onetime A/V production house while discovering how to live as a family (i.e. how not to berate each other about the hair in the sink).
After two years of cohabiting, Phox beheld a demo reel of bedroom-recorded music (and home movies) that made Bon Iver and The Fray recording engineer Brian Joseph blush. Donning his producer’s cape (and occasional lab coat), Joseph cheer-led the band through its debut album at April Base Studios in Eau Claire, WI.
Joseph’s enthusiasm propelled the band through the production of more than a dozen songs that have been swimming in the think tank for two years.
Mixed by Michael Brauer at Electric Lady in NYC, their debut album is a school of simple folk-pop songs swimming amidst a chaotic eddy of rock, psychedelia, and soul.
If the goal here is friendship, Phox is doing quite well. If the chosen path is blue collar pixel-pushing and church camp trust falls, they’re on the way. And if their only coping mechanism is to lay down their arms and, for 30 or 45 minutes a day, shut up and listen to each other, you can’t be too upset.
18. St. Paul & The Broken Bones
For Fans Of: Alabama Shakes, Shovels & Rope, Jason Isbell, The Lone Bellow, Hurray For The Riff Raff, Ivan & Alyosha
Grit, elemental rhythm, tight-as-a-drumhead playing, and a profound depth of feeling: these are the promises of a great soul band. And St. Paul & The Broken Bones deliver on those promises.
Half The City is the compelling full-length Single Lock/Thirty Tigers debut of the Birmingham, Alabama-based sextet, who have already created a maelstrom of interest with their roof-raising live shows and self-released four-song 2012 EP. Produced by Ben Tanner of Alabama Shakes, and recorded and mixed in the storied R&B mecca of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the album harkens back to the region’s classic soul roots while extending the form with electrifying potency.
Front man Paul Janeway’s handle “St. Paul” is a wry allusion to the vocalist’s grounding in the church. Like many a legendary soul singer, Janeway, a native of the small town of Chelsea, Alabama, was raised on the gospel side, in a non-denominational, Pentecostal-leaning local church. Virtually no non-religious music could be heard in his devout household. Janeway says, “The only secular music that I heard at all was a ‘70s group called the Stylistics, and Sam Cooke. That was about it. The rest of it was all gospel music. When I was about 10 years old, I was groomed to be a minister. My goal in life until I was about 18 years old was to be a preacher.”
He adds, “My pastor was the reason that I learned to play guitar. They would let me play guitar and sing in church. What was weird was that he would never let me sing lead – I’d sing background vocals. I always thought, ‘Well, maybe I’m just a good background vocalist.’ So I never thought I could really, really sing, at all. I never thought it would be a living, ever.”
Though his time in the church exposed Janeway to key influences in gospel music – the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Alex Bradford, Clay Evans – he began moving away from his youthful path in his late teens. He began attending open mic nights in Birmingham’s clubs and diversified his listening, excited by some decidedly left-of-center talents. “Tom Waits and Nick Cave were the really big attractions,” he says. “They have that passion. They’ve built this aura. They’re showmen to the teeth. And that’s what got me – it’s like going to church, in a weird way. At about the same time, I began listening to the great soul singers like Otis Redding, James Carr, and O.V. Wright. I was trying to find something that made my earbuds tingle.”
Seeking his musical comfort zone, Janeway had an incongruous stint in a band that played Led Zeppelin covers, but, he confesses today, “That’s not what I do.” However, his early work in the rock vein brought him together with bassist Jesse Phillips. The pair became close friends and were soon writing together; “Sugar Dyed,” “Broken Bones and Pocket Change,” and “That Glow,” all heard on Half The City, were among the first fruits of their collaboration.
The other members of the Broken Bones are all drawn from Alabama’s deep talent pool. Guitarist Browan Lollar, from the Muscle Shoals area about 100 miles north of Birmingham, previously played with Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit. “We never thought Browan would ever be interested in this band – he was too big-time for us,” says Janeway. “Jesse had met him while he was on tour with another band out of Birmingham. He asked Browan to come to the studio, and he showed up. I think we caught him at the right time. He wasn’t busy, and he said, ‘Man, I really want to be a part of this.’”
All six members share writing credit on 10 of the songs on Half The City, with Janeway contributing lyrics. “We firmly believe in a shared, communal writing process,” the singer says. “These guys are extremely talented. The drummer wrote horn parts. Browan threw something in. It’s very collective. We just get in a room. Sometimes we’ll have the scales for a song, or sometimes we’ll have this little riff. That’s how we do it.”
In Tanner — who logged time at Muscle Shoals’ aptly named FAME Studios, where scores of memorable soul records were cut — St. Paul and the Broken Bones found a like-minded producer and label boss. Half The City is among the first releases on Single Lock Records, the imprint co-founded by Tanner, John Paul White of the Civil Wars, and Will Trapp.
“When we started getting cranked up and nobody really knew who the hell we were, we got Ben to mix our original four-song EP,” says Janeway. “We just hit it off. He said, ‘Hey, guys, I’m in the process of starting this label. Obviously you can say no, but we’d love for you to be a part of it.’ And we said, ‘Hell, yeah.’”
Reaching back nearly 50 years to methods employed the great epoch of deep Southern soul, Tanner and the group eschewed studio trickery for an in-the-moment approach during sessions at the Nutthouse in Muscle Shoals, AL. Fittingly, the album was mixed at FAME. Janeway explains, “We said, ‘We’re doing this as old-school as we can.’ We did it to tape. We did it live. What you hear is taken from about three takes, and we took the best take. I love it. It’s raw. You hear all the scrapes.” Special guests include Al Gamble on piano, organ and wurlitzer, Daniel Stoddard on pedal steel, Jamie Harper on baritone sax and Tanner on piano, organ and background vocals.
Half The City – vital, direct, emotionally affecting – presents the same engaged, high-voltage, in-the-pocket sound that St. Paul & The Broken Bones produce at their live dates, where Janeway’s extroverted performing style enraptures his audiences.
“I’m going to be dancing, getting in the aisles, climbing on tables,” he says. “That’s just the way we do it. It really takes me back to church. There’s not a lot of difference. When I get on stage, it’s, ‘All right, it’s time to pour it on.’”
For Fans Of: Trash Talk, White Lung, Fucked Up, The Germs, Iceage, Cerebral Ballzy
Over the past four years, OFF! have proven to be more than just a band. They also raise a series of challenging questions. After four decades of heavy use, does punk rock still have any life left in it? Do Keith Morris and his gang of grown-ass punk heroes still have the goods?
They’ve answered their own questions with a resounding yes through a packed itinerary of shows and a handful of recordings that are among the rawest musical experiences of the new decade. Combining reckless improvisational energy with the combined skills of four deadly sharp musicians, OFF! have dug down through a decades’ worth of accumulated stylistic garbage, and rediscovered the stripped down core of noise, speed, and rock & roll that punk seemed to have lost forever.
Their third full-length studio recording, Wasted Years, is the most direct and unprocessed embodiment of OFF!’s mission yet. Recorded in their practice space, live to 8-track 1/2″ tape–with the barest minimum of rehearsal beforehand and enough mic bleed to make punching in over rough spots afterward an impossibility–the album captures the group (Morris, guitarist Dimitri Coats, bassist Steven McDonald, and drummer Mario Rubalcaba) in the spontaneous act of bringing its 16 songs to frenzied life. Listening to it is like jumping into the middle of one of the most chaotic and electrifying creative musical environments on Earth, where Cuban rhythms and Sabbath riffs collide with the energy of a California circle pit.
Searingly loud, frantically paced, and best taken in a single 23-minute dose, Wasted Years is a sonic cinder block, a clenched fist raised in the face of rock & roll refinement. If you had any questions about the state of punk in 2014, this is your answer.
For Fans Of: FIDLAR, The Bots, Diarrhea Planet, White Lung, Eagulls, Off!
Radkey is a punk band from St. Joseph, Missouri made up of three teenage brothers: Dee, Isaiah, and Solomon. Inspired by the music they grew up listening to such as the Misfits, Ramones, the Who and Death, the self taught trio decided to form a band. They had the pleasure of opening for Fishbone, Local H and Supersuckers and performed at the 2012 Afro-punk Festival in Brooklyn NY as well as playing an official 2013 SXSW showcase.
Dee the lead guitarist and vocalist is into learning to read and write Japanese, watching anime and enjoys books by Stephen King, Michael Crichton and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Isaiah the bass player and middle brother watches a shit ton of movies…I’m talking HOLY SHIT! That’s a lot of movies. Solomon the drummer and youngest brother has burned hundreds of hours playing Halo, Mario 64 and several other video games.
Radkey released their Devil Fruit EP in October 2013 and then released a new single “Feed My Brain” in April. The band’s explosive live shows at SXSW this year drew praise from many including Entertainment Weekly and SPIN. In the UK Zane Lowe, Jools Holland (where they made their television debut) and NME are all big supporters and fans. They are just completed a tour with Rise Against, Touche Amore and Twin Peaks.
We placed them in our list of picks for The 20 Most Underrated Artists of Fun Fun Fun Fest 2014 (see here).